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When will the Cebu City Public Library Re-open?

Cebu City Public Library
In December 2008, an announcement was made that Cebu City's Rizal Memorial Library would be closed for good. Pressure from Friends of the Cebu City Public Library, with the help of media exposure, led to the welcome news that the building would be renovated for three to six months and the library restored. The renovation, however, has still not been completed, even though a report indicated that "Acting" Mayor Michael Rama wanted the library fully renovated before the end of the year.

I do not know what the situation in Cebu is like, but based on what I've read (see articles below), it seems that there is more to this than meets the eye. Maybe someone can provide answers to the following questions:

  • The mayor and vice mayor do not seem to be talking to each other, as shown by conflicting pronouncements made in newspaper articles. Is the library's renovation getting caught in an election-related matter?
  • The supplementary budget has been approved, but has it been released? If the funds have been released, why is the renovation taking so long? Or is this delay related to the upcoming election as well?
  • Library associations and librarians in North America go crazy with press releases and blog posts when library closures are announced. But except for Mindanao Librarian, not a word has been heard (or at least, I haven't found anything online) from the Philippine Librarians Association or the Cebu Librarians Association. If even librarians don't think a library closure is worth fighting, does that mean it's time to close the library?
I know that I should have written about this earlier, but I'm writing about it now. And I hope that Filipino librarians in the Philippines, especially those in Cebu, will take it from here. At the very least, I hope someone can answer my questions above.

The following are the articles that I found online:
City library to close (Cebu Daily News, 30 Dec 2008)
Will closing library start trend? (CDN, 3 Jan 2009)
Rama ‘won’t eject public library’ (CDN, 5 Feb 2009)
Anniversary Issue (CDN, 8 Feb 2009)
Save Cebu City Library! (Freeman, 12 Feb 2009)
No plan to close city’s public library--Tomas (CDN, 27 March 2009)
Cebu City Library marks 90 years April 17 (CDN, 5 April 2009)
City seeks temporary home for Rizal Library (Sun.Star Cebu, 25 May 2009)
Funding for library complete (CDN, 15 Jun 2009)


Coming Soon: 5 Years of Filipino Librarian

On 18 February 2010, this blog will be five years old. My very first post was "Mabuhay!" I plan to revisit some old posts and perhaps make good on some promises that I never fulfilled. I'm thinking of holding a contest for the readers of this blog with a prize of US$100, but I can't think of an appropriate contest. Any ideas?


PLAI Congress 2009:
Observations from an American Librarian

The 2009 Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) National Congress was held last 25-27 November 2009 at Heritage Hotel Manila. There are lots of photos at PLAI-STRLC (1 2 3 4) and The Multiplying Gorilla (1 2 3), but very little commentary. Fortunately, another librarian was taking notes. If anyone else would like to write a guest post for this blog about the PLAI Congress or any other library-related topic, send me an email at von-dot-totanes-at-gmail-dot-com.

by John Hickok

John HickokI was delighted to attend the 2009 PLAI Congress. As a U.S. Librarian, I have attended many library conferences, but this was my first time to attend a PLAI conference. I am no stranger to Philippine libraries, as I first began researching libraries in the Philippines in 2005 with a research grant, and have made return visits, plus kept continued ties with many Philippine libraries, since. Also, as chair of the American Library Association International Relations Roundtable Orientation Committee, it was my pleasure to bring brochures and flyers from ALA, on paper/poster opportunities available to Philippine librarians.

The 3-day PLAI congress was most informative. The theme was environmental sustainability thru libraries, and a variety of experts on environmental topics presented, including ways of "going green" by Prof. Antonio Oposa of UP, and legal issues of sustainability for libraries, by Atty. Noel Ramiscal, also of UP. Aside from the program, the congress's venue (meals, location, etc.) were very nice at the Heritage Hotel Manila.

No conference is without a few challenges, of course. One was several late or absent speakers. Another was practical application to libraries. I spoke with several librarians attending, and asked them how they were enjoying it. They said "It's good... there was lots of good information on pollution, waste, etc... but we know that. We want more SPECIFIC suggestions on what, exactly, libraries should do." I was impressed with their motivation and interest. Environmental issues are ones that U.S. libraries struggle with as well.

As I continue my cross-cultural, comparative research on Philippine libraries and libraries of other Asian countries, I'll be sure and share my findings through this blog. My heartfelt appreciation to the organizers of the PLAI Congress for their hospitality in welcoming me, and to the many wonderful librarians I met and reunited with. Philippine hospitality is absolutely amazing! Thank you all! Maraming salamat po!


In My Life: 1999-2009

Writing this chronological account has helped me realize that I was literally and figuratively “all over the place” from 1999 to 2009, but I'm thankful that I’ve finally found my “corner of the sky.” I don’t know if anyone else can learn anything from my experience, but this is my blog and I’m doing it for the record =)

At the beginning of 1999, I was still an assistant manager at Bank of the Philippine Islands with my own car. But after four years of working at a bank (including going through a merger!), I resigned, gave up the car, and eventually made my way to Arvisu House, a Jesuit prenovitiate, where I discerned whether my future lay in religious life. After it became clear in 2000 that the Jesuits and I were better off as friends (as opposed to “married” LOL!), I left for Cebu to teach Religion and Business English at Sacred Heart School for Boys (see "Introducing Gen X to the Bible"). At the end of SY 2000-2001, I returned to Manila and drifted from the Social Security System (as a consultant) to Loyola School of Theology (as a part-time graduate student and assistant editor) to Parlance (as a supervisor), until I decided to go back to school full-time for a master’s degree in library and information science (MLIS) at the University of the Philippines (instead of an MBA at AIM) toward the end of 2002. I finished my MLIS, began working at Asian Development Bank (as a records assistant) and obtained my librarian’s license in 2004 (see "Librarians: Already... But Not Yet").

In 2005, I started blogging (see "Mabuhay"), received a travel grant to attend a librarian’s conference in Toronto (see "Librarians as Leaders"), wrote an investigative report for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (see "By Vernon R. Totanes"), and got hired to teach Research and Library Management at UP’s then-Institute of Library and Information Science (see "Gainfully Employed"). I submitted my application to do my PhD at University of Toronto while I was an assistant professor at UP, and by the end of SY 2005-2006 I learned that I had been accepted (see "PhD - Information Studies"). On the way to Toronto, I wrote some more for PCIJ (see "Edsa 20/20: One Year Later") and was given another travel grant (see "Open Access in the Third World"). From 2006 to 2009, I travelled back and forth between Toronto and Manila to attend classes and do research. Perhaps the most significant event in my life during this period that was not directly related to my profession as a librarian or my status as a PhD student was my stint as a game-show contestant on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal."

After I obtained my librarian’s license, it occurred to me that I was not drifting anymore, especially because it was then that I began to receive invitations to lecture as a librarian and blogger, and present papers at refereed conferences. I even got a few things published along the way (see "A Day in the Life"). Since 2005, I have delivered presentations in Manila, Singapore, Toronto (I just realized that I've never blogged about my presentations in this city!), Vancouver, Oxford, Hanoi, and at Library of Congress in Washington, DC. I hope there will be a few more before I graduate—finally?—in 2011. I have no idea what the future holds, but based on my own previous experience (i.e., from corporate to religious to academic, with lots more in between), I am confident that it will all work out in the end =)

Happy New Year!


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